MSPs clash over value of Scottish independence

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A pair of MSPs have clashed over the value of Scottish independence.

Jenni Minto for the SNP and Donald Cameron for the Conservatives have disagreed over Scotland’s gross domestic product (GDP) were it an independent country.

Ms Minto said Argyll and Bute is losing out to the equivalent of £3,233 per person as a result of being part of the United Kingdom.

The shortfall is because, she says, the UK has a GDP 12 per cent lower than the average in north west Europe.

That, the MSP said, made Scotland worse off than countries such as Ireland, Finland and Denmark.

But Mr Cameron called it a ‘spurious comparison’ and said the figures had not taken into account the UK’s levels of taxation or the NHS.

Jenni Minto, who represents Argyll and Bute in Holyrood, cited new research by the House of Commons Library.

She said: ‘Argyll & Bute produces £26,014 per person but applying the 12 per cent GDP gap, it could be producing £29,247 if Scotland was an independent country capable of fulfilling its potential like other small European nations.’

‘These stats are a damning indictment of Scotland’s position within the UK and just like Argyll & Bute Council, every local authority in Scotland has a lower production level compared with countries in North West Europe that are of a similar population size to Scotland.

‘Councils across Scotland, including Argyll and Bute Council, are being held back by the UK and these stats demonstrate that. The only way Scotland can realise its full potential is by becoming an independent country.’

She added: ‘As small independent countries continue to flourish, Scotland cannot be left behind. We cannot trust the Tories to protect Scotland, the only way to do that is by becoming an independent country.’

But Mr Cameron, who represents the Highlands and Islands for the opposition, suggested the SNP focus on fixing the area’s creaking transport network rather than getting distracted by another independence referendum

He hit back: ‘Whenever the SNP have to explain away the huge financial benefits for Scotland of being in the UK, they immediately change the subject by making irrelevant and spurious comparisons with other countries, few of which have similar levels of taxation and spending as us, or have the equivalent of the NHS.

‘If local SNP politicians are really concerned about productivity levels in Argyll and Bute then I suggest they do something about our crumbling infrastructure such as the A83 and the ferry service, which have been so badly neglected by the SNP during their 14 years in power.’